Windfall Group bags tax incentive for riverfront Chinatown hotel plan

Windfall Group is clearing years of hurdles that have tripped up redevelopment plans for a landmark building on the Chicago River in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood.

The long-awaited transformation of the vacant W.M. Hoyt Building at 465 West Cermak Road into a mixed-use asset may commence next year after the Commission on Chicago Landmarks approved a special property tax incentive for the Prairie-style structure first built in 1909, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The commission’s move paves the way for the five-story, 300,000-square-foot structure’s transformation into Pacifica of Chicago, a four-star hotel, along with offices, a grocery, restaurants, a medical center, a spa, ground-level retail and a public riverwalk. Windfall, the developer behind the project, expects the renovation to cost between $40 million and $50 million, with the special incentive, called Class L, reducing property tax assessments for 12 years.

The Hoyt Building, vacant for decades, is poised to become a gateway to both Chinatown and Pilsen, according to Aurora-based Windfall’s CEO Eddie Ni. The Prairie-style building was designed by Nimmons & Fellows and completed in 1909.

Previous attempts to redevelop the building — including a 2015 effort to turn it into offices by Chicago-based historic preservation redevelopment specialist R2 — ran into walls, the newspaper reported.

A venture of Windfall first acquired an interest in the property in 2007, when it took control of a loan note for a debt tied to the property. In 2017, it acquired an ownership stake in the property for $7.4 million, when Windfall bought out an LLC that had ownership and had been a tenant in the building. A Windfall venture last year completed its takeover of the property, the developer’s Judy Ni said, according to the publication.

Windfall’s plan is to make the property into a community hub. The project proposes repurposing loading docks into open arcades along the riverfront. The developer is currently in negotiations with a major hospitality brand to operate the hotel.

While Windfall Group aims to break ground by 2024, final approvals from the Chicago Plan Commission and City Council are still required. Additionally, the developer needs further approvals from the landmarks commission for its plans regarding the exterior’s historic limestone and terra cotta details.

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